Supporting Excellence at Stony Brook University
Established in 1965, the Stony Brook Foundation is a private 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization. It exists to advance the goals and strategic plan of Stony Brook University by raising and managing private funds on the University’s behalf. Since its inception, the Foundation has raised nearly $1 billion in gifts and employs best practices and procedures to ensure all gifts to the University are wisely invested and distributed consistent with each donor’s expressed intent.
Philanthropy that supports Stony Brook University’s programs and builds its endowment has never been more important given the well-documented decline in state funding for public higher education. Although New York State is more generous to its state university system than those of other states, it funds less than 18 percent of Stony Brook’s annual operating budget.
Ensuring access to a world-class public university education for highly qualified students from families with limited means is central to our mission. At Stony Brook, approximately 32.4 percent of students are Pell eligible, meaning they come from families earning less than $30,000 a year. And among fellow members of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Stony Brook University stands out with the second highest proportion of Pell eligible students.
To meet this need, the Foundation raises private dollars for merit- and need-based student scholarship and fellowship support. During the Campaign for Stony Brook, which concluded in 2018, $52.6 million was raised for financial aid. Privately raised funds help ensure that Stony Brook is not about privilege but about potential.
Additional funds raised by the Stony Brook Foundation for endowed faculty, innovative technology, and basic and translational research have enabled the University to achieve a critical margin of excellence and a U.S.News & World Report ranking of 32 among public universities in the country.
The Foundation demonstrates careful fiduciary stewardship of all private funds, pursuing a conservative investment strategy to safeguard the endowment’s principal in order to provide steady funding for the initiatives to which donors have designated their support. Even with this relatively conservative investment strategy when compared with the 774 higher education endowments and foundations surveyed by NACUBO, in fiscal year 2019 the Stony Brook Foundation’s endowment yielded returns of 7.5 percent.
The Stony Brook Foundation values philanthropic support for students and faculty above all: no fees are assessed on gifts intended for student scholarships, fellowships or prizes, or for faculty awards. Where assessed, Stony Brook Foundation’s management fees are in line with peer institutions. All endowed accounts are charged 1.15 percent annually. Current use gifts are subject to a 10 percent management fee at the time of the gift. These gift fees fund the Foundation’s exceptionally lean operating budget: salary, benefits, and expenses of Stony Brook University and Stony Brook Medicine’s highly-productive development team, as well as banking costs, required insurance, annual audits and the Foundation’s business office operations.
The Foundation is directed by a volunteer Board of Trustees and is independently audited, ensuring it complies with the standards and criteria established by the Financial Accounting Standards Board and the IRS. The Foundation prepares a fiscal year annual report that, along with its by-laws, is shared with donors and the public on its web site ( stonybrook.edu/foundation). The Foundation’s IRS Form 990 is also openly accessible on GuideStar.
As these reports demonstrate, virtually all donors restrict their gifts to benefit particular areas of interest (e.g., the arts program, an endowed chair in physics, a scholarship in the humanities, a professor’s research needs, expanding Stony Brook Children’s Hospital). For instance, during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017, $79.5 million of the $82.8 million received in donations were designated by donors for specific University programs and initiatives.
Members of the Foundation’s volunteer Board of Trustees provide additional oversight to ensure that the Foundation meets its fiduciary responsibility to the University, donors and its charter. Board members represent a cross-section of notable leaders in fields ranging from law to business and the arts. Some Trustees are also Stony Brook alumni, most notably Chair of the Board and IMAX Corporation CEO Richard Gelfond '76.
Dedicated to the University and devoted to ensuring the integrity of the Foundation’s practices, these individuals are not only generous with their time, but also with their personal financial resources. Since the Foundation’s inception, Trustees have personally contributed more than $500 million for student scholarships, state of the art research and instructional facilities, academic excellence, community service, and patient care. In addition, every spring since 2000, the Board hosts the Stars of Stony Brook Gala for academic programs and scholarship support, which has raised more than $59 million to date.
Stony Brook University would not be the university it is today without its exceptional partnership with the Stony Brook Foundation and with the generous individuals, corporations and foundations who have invested in our students, our faculty and our future.